Talk about High Expectations

Forget about WWJD. Be Jesus.

In other words, there is more, much more to being a disciple of Jesus Christ than simply trying to imitate him. How dull is that?

Instead we’re talking about becoming Jesus Christ alive in the world today. He wants to do more, much more than we can ask or imagine, and he does so through the sacramental economy.

Catholics have an understanding of the Christian life that is stranger and deeper and more mysterious than any other. This is because we have the gift of the seven sacraments.

A sacrament is not simply “an outward sign of an inward grace” that’s an Anglican definition. It is not simply a symbol or a reminder. That’s a Protestant definition. The Catholic understanding is that “a sacrament effects what it signifies.”

It DOES something, and what it does is it configures us to Christ. That is to say, through the mystery of the sacrament we are bonded with Christ and Christ is bonded with us, and this is a reality, not just a theory. It is there in the gospel where Jesus says, “Abide in me and I will abide in you. I am the vine you are the branches.”

I wonder what Mark Jones would say about such encouragement to be “the greatest believer who ever lived.”


32 thoughts on “Talk about High Expectations

  1. This is an extension of the “nature/grace” continuum and the “ongoing incarnation” stuff that Leonard De Chirico and Gregg Allison have written about.

    Michael Himes, in his work “Ongoing Incarnation” (about the theology of Johann Adam Mohler) wrote:

    [Mohler] can be seen as anticipating the major movement of Roman Catholic thought in [the 20th] century. He did so in seeking to preserve the integrity of both the divine and human poles of the grace relationship, the guiding thread of all his work…

    [at the council of Trent, and for several centuries beyond it], Ecclesiology had been more like canon law than theology. After Mohler’s generation and in very large part due to his work and influence, what one thought about the [Roman Catholic] church was conditioned by what one thought about the Trinity, theological anthropology, Christology, soteriology, and eschatology. Mohler did this in the course of a career in which he dealt in various ways with what under many guises has been the central issue of Western Christian thought since Augustine and Pelagius: grace and nature….

    [Prior to Mohler], As one might have to put trust in the honesty of a witness’s account but not in the obvious fact of the witness’s existence, so the believer put his faith in the church’s preaching but simply acknowledged the reality of the church. But Mohler made the [Roman Catholic] church one of the truths which it proclaimed. It was no longer the bearer of revelation but the embodiment of revelataion, no longer the possessor of God’s self-communication but the extension of that communication. The existence of church as church was not a fact of experience but a doctrine of faith intimately connected with, illuminating, and illuminated by the other doctrines of faith.

    “The church” (and Himes is clear that “the church” is “the Roman Catholic Church”, hierarchy and all, through time) is “wholly divine and wholly human and therefore fully a subject of study by the theologian and fully a subject of the study by the historian, the sociologist, the political economist, etc. It is wholly human and wholly divine”.

    Of course, Vatican II turned this not into an ontological extension of Christ, but an analogical one …

    Lumen Gentium says:

    For this reason, by no weak analogy, it is compared to the mystery of the incarnate Word. As the assumed nature inseparably united to Him, serves the divine Word as a living organ of salvation, so, in a similar way, does the visible social structure of the Church serve the Spirit of Christ, who vivifies it, in the building up of the body.

    This is where you and Bryan seem to be talking at odds. Bryan merely assumes that the Roman Catholic Church has that “divine” ontology — he’ll never tell you how he knows that, because there is no way he can prove it. He takes it as a doctrine of “the faith” just as much as we assume the existence of God.

    Then you (and others) bring up history to him, and the question ought to be: Since Christ was divine and human, and therefore sinless, how can “the Church” be “wholly divine” and still be as sinful as it has been through history.

    The answer for Bryan (sorry to speak for you, but this is how it is), is merely an assumption on his part. Bryan cannot appeal to history, and he knows it. This is why I say he is dishonest. This is why everything is “not inconsistent with” … but he never can say, “this is how it was. So he never describes the actual state of affairs, because he doesn’t care about it. History doesn’t matter to him, and in fact, he is an historical Luddite.


  2. This is why it’s important to understand verses like John 15, Ephesians 2, and 2 Peter 1:4 (and others) in their Old Testament context — not as they came to be understood in the later Greek (neo-platonic) context of the church.


  3. John, I just finished Allison’s book. If that isn’t the clearest comparison between Roman Theology and Practice and Evangelical theology response I have ever read, I don’t know what is. The outing of the faulty axioms nature/ fallen human nature and Church as continued incarnation is excellent. Before Jesus says go into the world and make disciples etc., He says all authority on heaven and earth have been given to ME. To think that the church is executing a plan of redemption by the acts of the church wounds Christ and the sufficiency of what is His unique finished work accomplished. Allison’s book is really good.


  4. Thanks Kevin, you are precisely correct to say that “He says all authority on heaven and earth have been given to ME”; what he doesn’t say is “now I give it to you”. However, ancient Rome was very consciously focused on things like honor and status, and it is no accident that bishops of Rome sought to accumulate authority for themselves. The Eastern churches were willing to accord Rome some honor based on it being the capital (which was articulated at both the councils of Constantinople (381) and Chalcedon (451) — but Roman bishops refused to acknowledge that humble gesture from the east, and instead placed themselves in Christ’s place. They have been doing that ever since, and at Vatican II, they articulated it as “a doctrine of the Church”.

    This is why Roman Catholicism is virtually a kind of idolatry, having set up itself as an idol.

    I think Gregg Allison did a fantastic job with a fantastically complex subject matter.


  5. Peter OBrien, NIGTC on Philippians, 262—“The Christ-hymn (2:5-11) presents Jesus as the ultimate model for Christian behavior and action, the supreme example of the humble, self-sacrificing, self-giving service that Paul has been urging the Philippians to practice in their relations toward one another.”

    Andrew Purves, The Crucifixion of Ministry, IVP, 2007, p57—“Making the incarnation something that we do can easily assume that the living Christ is not present and active. But it is Christ’s ministry that is primary, for His ministry alone is redemptive.”

    both quotations are from Todd Billings, “A Critique of Incarnational Ministry”, in Union with Christ,, Baker, 2011


  6. John and any others,

    Is the Roman Catholic church declaring about itself that it is Jesus Christ in the form ‘not the Word become flesh’, but the Word become Roman Catholic church? Same Jesus but different incarnations though essentially the same in some eternal dimension or heavenly abode or noumenal.

    When I read this article posted by D. G. Hart it would appear to be so.

    I know that any one word is differently defined and applied by a Reformer compared to a Roman Catholic. So to Roman Catholicism Jesus Christ appears in various forms, e.g. transubstantiation is just another form of Jesus Christ. The form does not cancel the essential.

    I still think they hold to Jesus Christ returning again in His incorruptible flesh form (what a Reformer such as myself defines as very man and very God), but might Roman Catholicism also be declaring that He still incarnates from the noumenal in various forms today aside from transubstantiation but also as the ‘church’ (others as well also, like one of their other sacraments)? I say noumenal because this is the line of interpretative thinking I am using here to interpret Roman Catholicism (based on what Van Til’s wrote on how Catholicism ‘thinks’). The eternal penetrates or incarnates into time in various forms. A lying theophany. A Catholicism word use of incarnation in letter only but void of the true substantial meaning as to how Christianity rightly defines incarnation.

    If Catholicism declares their ‘church’ is Jesus Christ and all in their ‘church’ may participate in that ideal (read also: being), or current incarnation of Jesus, then would that also further mean that each participant of that ideal (or being) that is their ‘church’ has not only participation but those people are directly living the being Jesus Christ? As D. G. Hart wrote above they are saying one may now “Be Jesus”.

    Am I understanding this correctly?

    – Nicholas


  7. We do not imitate the act of becoming incarnate but are being conformed to Christ the incarnate one.” Billings, Union with Christ, 151

    “That the concept of imitation is not applied by the New Testament at some of those points where Franciscan and romantic devotion has tried most piously to apply it, is all the more powerfully a demonstration of how fundamental the thought of participation in the suffering of Christ is when the New Testament church sees it as guiding and explaining her attitude to the powers of the world.” John Howard Yoder, The Politics of Jesus, Eerdmans, 1994, pg. 95

    I Peter 2: But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you would follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we HAVING DIED TO sin, would live to righteousness.

    Donald Mcleod, p202, the Person of Christ, IVP, 1998— Christ’s humanity is that of every human. But He is not every human. He is the man, Christ Jesus, and the only humanity united to him hypostatically is his own. This must control our understanding of the vicarious humanity of Christ.

    Mcleod– It was not the human race but the specific personalized humanity of Christ that suffered under Pontius Pilate. Christ is true God, but he is not the whole godhead. Christ is true human, but he is not the whole of humanity. The humanity of Christ was hypostatized in the person of the Son, not in the person of the Father. Godhead was united to manhood not in the person of Everyman but in the person of Jesus Christ. The hypostatic union did not by itself secure the theiosis of every human being. In fact, the hypostatic union did not by itself secure the theiosis of even our Lord’s human nature. He was glorified not because He was God incarnate but because he finished the work given him to do (John 17:4). It is perfectly possible to be human and yet not be in Christ, because although the incarnation unites Christ to human nature it does not unite him to me.”


  8. Mark — thanks for those references. I have that work but I haven’t read it yet.

    Based on a reference in Thomas Schreiner’s commentary on 1 and 2 Peter and Jude, I’ve gotten hold of a copy of James Starr’s “Sharers in the Divine Nature”. Starr traces the meaning of that phrase through the Old Testament and through contemporary writings such as Josephus and Philo, as well as corresponding ideas in the New Testament. I haven’t read that one either, but I’m hoping to get to it soon.


  9. Nicholas: I think you are understanding it correctly.

    “Is the Roman Catholic church declaring about itself that it is Jesus Christ in the form ‘not the Word become flesh’, but the Word become Roman Catholic church? Same Jesus but different incarnations though essentially the same in some eternal dimension or heavenly abode or noumenal.”

    Because they use the phrase “by no weak analogy”, they have the ability to deny that that’s what they’re saying. However, their use of language is so malleable (and this seems to be one of those instances) such that is “ambiguous enough to accommodate both schools of thought”.

    So as you read in the OP, “you can be Jesus” – and I’ve actually had Roman apologists argue that “the Roman Catholic Church = Christ”.

    This “ambiguity” is representative of their “both/and” way of looking at things (as opposed to the “Solas” of the Reformation).

    Same Jesus but different incarnations though essentially the same in some eternal dimension or heavenly abode or noumenal.

    There has in recent centuries been “mystical body” kinds of thinking, and you’ll see the phrase “The body and the head compose ‘the whole Christ’”.

    I’m sure you’ll see different Roman Catholics with different takes on this – none of it will be exegetically based – they’ll go by what some priest told them (Longnecker?) or something they read in a book about one of the St Theresas or something. The good thing about it is that, no matter what someone says, they’re all right about it.


  10. In that case then a person ‘not lighting the candle at church’ and the person who ‘does light the candle at church’ are seen by some in Catholicism to be still part of the ‘church’ – all in the same boat. Yet on the other hand some in Catholicism who would not recognize the person who does ‘not light the candle at church’ to be in the ‘church’. Is the job of Post-Vatican Two councils and popish decrees to merely harmonize and keep the yin and yang in the church? Was this as popular or emphasized within Catholicism Pre-Vatican Two or was Vatican Two the pivotal watershed for this type of harmonic emphasis within the church? I think D.G. Hart had a recent article titled ‘harmonic convergence’. Is that a Vatican Two, Post-Vatican Two emphasis? I stress emphasis, because I am sure that Catholicism Pre-Vatican Two was ambiguous but I do not know if has ever been so widespread and permeated throughout Catholicism as Post-Vatican Two. I also know there were preparatory contributors, Karl Rahner, that brought on Vatican Two so Vatican Two did not appear out of nowhere.

    Also that type of ambiguity for the sake of unity or harmonic convergence or balance no doubt would be ahistorical in method, but would not rid all Catholicism historians within Rome as long as evolutionary methodology lurks. Yet they would fill in the fact gap with their ‘faith’ so as to cover all their basis.

    I have been reading quite a bit of material, along with this website, and yours too John, and something is clicking a little in my understanding now I think. Roman Catholicism is very foreign. Thank God that He is not foreign and ambiguous, but clearly reveals Himself by His Word.

    – Nicholas


  11. Hi Nicholas, from a Roman Catholic perspective, what makes you part of “The Church” is that you’ve been baptized. If you’re baptized as a Presbyterian, you are “in some way” connected to the Roman Catholic Church, even though you don’t have the “fullness of the faith”, and you could die having committed a mortal sin, without the benefit of “confession”, and so yes, you’re a “separated brethren”, but no, it probably won’t do you all that much good.

    Is the job of Post-Vatican Two councils and popish decrees to merely harmonize and keep the yin and yang in the church?

    There were two factions going into Vatican II: the “neo-thomists” (who had been around since Trent, and whose position had been sort of ossified by Pope Leo XIII, as THE philosophical foundation of the Roman Catholic Church. Then you had the “nouvelle theologie” and its proponents (called “neo-modernists” by the “neo-thomists”, because of their resemblance to the “modernists” railed against by Pius X earlier in the 20th century.

    The “nouvelle theologie” gained traction once Henri De Lubac wrote a work entitled “Surnaturel”, the basic contention of which was “the neo-Thomists” following Trent (Cardinal Cajetan, especially), got Thomas wrong.

    There was a papal encyclical, Humani Generis by Pius XII, which, without naming names, spanked hard the “nouvelle theologians”, who basically were not permitted to teach during the 1950’s.

    However, Angelo Roncalli (who became Good Pope John) had read De Lubac and Congar and some of the others, and liked them enough to call a council and invite them to it.

    That accounts for the need to be “ambiguous enough to accommodate both schools of thought”. Those were the two schools of thought.

    After Vatican II, the barn doors really had been thrown open, and the “modernists” (progressives) ran amock, proposing all kinds of odd non-historical things. Then you had “Humani Vitae”, and the deadbeat 1970’s, and then John Paul II and Ratzinger basically trying to close the barn doors on the progressives, but then Ratzinger retired, Bergoglio flew up from Argentina, and now the progressives are in the ascendancy.

    As pope, Bergoglio genuinely could do some damage on a historical scale. There’s no guarantee that he would do it, but he took an apartment in the crew quarters so that he wouldn’t accidentally die of a heart attack the way that John Paul I did.

    * * *

    Thanks for reading … it is very foreign –and I truly believe, as I’ve said here, that, all things considered, Roman Catholicism has done more harm to Christianity than any other thing (and in harming the church, it harms the world).

    If the body of Christ is a body, then Roman Catholicism has been a full-body leech, sucking the life out of Christians and Christianity for the last 1600 years.


  12. Do the progressives and neo-thomists still fight over who is the real Thomist (progressives or neo-thomists)?

    The ambiguity clauses in their writings, eg Vatican Two, seem to via for a third way, not just simply progressives v. neo-thomists. Or is that the Thomist way, that moderation, that each side is trying to demonstrate and show who is the best at doing it (be moderate without losing what each side deems central to being “Roman Catholic”). Since baptism is so central they have agreement. But then again when it comes to other practices, abortion v. pro-life, these are where their battle grounds are? I am what is at stake if the progressives lose and what is at stake if neo-Thomists lose? Usually for unregenerate man (fallen man) what is always at stake is human autonomy. Whoever demonstrates they have the most freedom to offer would be the winner, yet, they still have to appear holy. I say appear because to use my understanding of the wicked, those who are best at being wicked are those who deceive the best to appear Christ-like, meaning, the best deception of Christ-like is the best rendering of not being Christ, in other words, AntiChrist. Though I do not think fallen man knows he is being that way. The more he tries to do good by his own works, the more he rejects the help of God and relies upon himself which always turns out bad – but they say they are doing the best they can and that is all that counts. That is not the gospel.



  13. Sorry, Not- “I am what is at stake if the progressives lose…” haha

    Should read: “I mean what is at stake if the progressives lose…”

    Should read: “…best rendering of not being Christ-like, in other words…”


  14. Calvin, 3/11/4—But the most satisfactory passage on this subject is that in which he declares the sum of the Gospel message to be reconciliation to God, who is pleased, through Christ, to receive us into favor by not imputing our sins, (2 Cor. 5: 18-21.) Let my readers carefully weigh the whole context. For Paul shortly after adding, by way of explanation, in order to designate the mode of RECONCILIATION, that Christ who knew no sin was made sin for us, undoubtedly understands by reconciliation nothing else than justification. Nor, indeed, could it be said, as he elsewhere does, that we are made righteous “by the obedience” of Christ, (Rom. 5: 19,) were it not that we are deemed righteous in the sight of God in him and not in ourselves.

    Calvin—Osiander holds in regard to the mode of receiving Christ,that by the ministry of the external word the internal word is received; that he may thus lead us away from THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST , and his office of Mediator, to his DIVINE NATURE. It would be incongruous to say that the divine nature which existed from eternity was made ours. Granting that God was made unto us righteousness, what are we to make of Paul’s interposed statement, that he was so made by God? This certainly is peculiar to the office of mediator, for although he contains in himself the divine nature, yet he receives his own proper title, that he may be distinguished from the Father and the Spirit.

    Calvin: Jehovah, when made of the seed of David, was indeed to be the righteousness of believers, but in what sense Isaiah declares, “By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many,” (Isaiah 53: 11.) Let us observe that it is the Father who speaks. He attributes the office of justifying to the Son, and adds the reason, – because he is “righteous.” Christ justified us by his act of obedience to the Father; and, he does not perform this act of obedience for us in respect of his divine nature, but according to the nature of the dispensation laid upon him.


  15. p 110, “What’s At Stake in Current Debates Over Justification?”, Bruce McCormack, Princeton Seminary

    “Nowadays, we are suffering from ‘creeping perichoresis’, that is, the overly expansive use of terms which have their homes in purely spiritual relations between humans who do NOT participate in a common ‘substance’ and who therefore remain distinct individuals This surely has to be the relation of the human believer to the human Jesus as well.

    McCormack—“The early church thought of an ontological union of a ‘person” in whom being is mixed with non-being (that’s us) with a ‘person’ in whom being is pure from non-being (Jesus). Where that occurs, the life communicated from the vine to the branches flows organically…But the difference between the relation between a vine and a branch and the relation between Christ and the believer is that the first relation is impersonal and the second is personal. The flow of nutrients from the vine to the branches take place automatically.But in the case of Christ and the individual believer,the ‘bearing of fruit’ takes place on the foundation of justification.”

    That Paul in Romans 11 would preface his use of the horticultural image with the affirmation that the adoption belonged to the Israelites before the Gentiles suggests that the image of ‘ingrafting’ is used as a synonym for adoption. The horticultural image is subordinated to the legal.”


  16. 30 – 40
    18 – 25
    35 – 45
    20 – 25

    103 – 135



    Here is an article where some “neo-Thomists” clearly regard the “nouvelle theologians” as being something like the inmates who’ve taken over the asylum?

    Check around at that blog site. It’s clear that this is a traditionalist Roman Catholic who has not gone into schism (such as the SSPX or sedevacantists).

    Here is the nub of the issue:

    This propaganda is thus aimed not only at Thomism, but at philosophy itself, and the opponents of Thomism were only able to make use of it because they were not interested in philosophy. They would use philosophical claims to advance their agenda, but they proposed no general philosophical alternative to Thomism.

    They offered no account of central topics of philosophy – time, space, cause, universal and particular, body, soul, perception, and the like – to replace the Thomist accounts they had banished. Their proposed alternative to Thomism, ‘Transcendental Thomism’, with its ‘turn to the self’, has no serious analysis of such topics.

    Of course if they had attempted to offer a philosophical alternative to Thomism, they would have had to meet Thomists on the terrain of reasoned argument, where the Thomists were more than capable of holding their own. But they did not need to run this risk, because they were happy to dispense with philosophy rather than engage in it.

    The term “ressourcement” was used frequently by the “nouvelle theologie”. It was something like “back to the sources”, excpt that they did not turn back to the Hebrew language and the Hebrew scriptures to provide context for Christ and the New Testament; rather, they turned to the patristics and the mystics as having the authority of the early church.

    The nature of this rejection of Thomism has had grave consequences. It is not just the rejection of those characteristic theses that are advanced by Thomism but denied by other schools of Catholic thought. It is a global rejection of the content of Thomism as a whole.

    This content is largely shared with the other traditional Catholic schools – and indeed with traditional Western philosophy as a whole, since Thomism incorporates many of the basic Platonic and Aristotelian ideas that are central to this philosophy. Of course, rejecting these basic ideas means rejecting Western philosophy and the whole Catholic tradition of thought of which they are an essential part.

    But if we accept – as we should – that Western philosophy has some worth, it also means rejecting essential philosophical truths. Throwing out the basic framework of traditional Western philosophy means throwing out the fundamental philosophical insights that it contains. This abandonment has consequences for theology that were not lost on the Thomists who defended their tradition.

    Although the progressive opponents of Thomism were hostile to philosophy, their attack on Thomism was not a purely negative one; it had the purpose of displacing Thomism and the Catholic philosophical heritage generally, in order to replace them with their own views. These views, which revived essential elements of the modernist heresy of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, need to be grasped in order to understand the current situation of Thomism and of the Church generally.

    This is why you’ll see someone like Edward Feser making inroads into some young Reformed and evangelical thinkers. Feser is trying to update “thomism” by using “thomisim” and aristitotelian metaphysics to try to describe now things like “time, space, cause, universal and particular, body, soul, perception”.

    They have actual discussions about this sort of thing.

    Of course, if they can make Aristotelian metaphysics seem legitimate, they can use this as a back door to suggest that Roman Catholicism has philosophical legitimacy.

    It all leads back to “nature/grace” from a theological perspective.

    That is what is happening among the neo-Thomist “losers”.

    On the other hand, the “neo-modernists” have “seized power” — this “neo thomist” movement is designed not to be an external apologetic, so much as an internal one. And the goal of it is to take over the ascendancy in the Roman hierarchy:

    The success of the neomodernists in seizing power in the Church was partly due to their tactical adroitness and to the favourable conditions that existed for them in the Church. They had learned from the first modernist crisis how to deal with magisterial opposition; there was not the will at the top of the Church to take drastic steps against them of the sort that had been successfully used by St Pius X, and there was no understanding of the necessity for such steps – Pius XII seems to have believed that his now forgotten encyclical Humani Generis had dealt with the situation adequately; for reasons that are not fully understood, the clergy and bishops were much more receptive to their message than was the case 40 years earlier.

    The protean character of their position was also a key to their success.

    In answer to your question, “what is at stake if the progressives lose and what is at stake if neo-Thomists lose?”

    I think the system (“both-and”) has been designed to allow the two to “live together” in something like a marriage — I mentioned above that Bergoglio can do some historical damage — by perhaps giving up some papal authority to the eastern churches (although the vast majority of the EOs are now Russian Orthodox, and they want nothing to do with Rome, no matter what Constantinople says). So that may not happen in our lifetimes.

    I think both of them (and this is the upper eschelons, not the people in the pews) believe that the Roman Church is ontologically “the Church that Christ Founded(TM)”, and that they have some duty to be true to that.

    Rather than there being a “winner”, I think that both are going to move Rome closer to the kind of “one-ism” that is going to tend toward panentheism — Oprah-ism. (Go to Triablogue and search “Peter Jones, a new pagan era”.)

    Ultimately, maybe, Bergoglio is going to bring some worldly progressives into the RCC as if they were following Christ by following the ancient pagan religion of their choice.

    I think both branches are to be rejected, although for different reasons.


  17. The diagnosis of the “neo-Thomists” at the end of the article is interesting:

    The key to the neomodernist capture of power is however also the reason for their failure to sustain a religious culture. Neomodernism is not like Protestantism, which contains ideas with a positive content as well as being a rejection of Catholicism. These ideas – justification by faith, and the like – are not correct, but they say something substantial, and have an appeal that can give rise to an important movement. Neomodernism, however, on a religious level is a purely negative thesis. As a result it has no attractive force of its own, and ecclesiastical structures that fall into its grip eventually die away – a process now visible all over the world. This is one thing that on the natural level permitted the survival of Thomism, despite the drastic measures taken to uproot it from the Church; unlike neomodernism, it has something positive and substantial to say. Moreover, what it has to say is actually true. This is in no way a guarantee of broad success, but it ensures the continued existence of Thomism in the small constituency of good scholars who are concerned with the truth and in a position to discover it. Whether it will expand much beyond this constituency in the future is unknown, but there is no doubt that its future shows more promise than that of neomodernism


  18. John,

    Thank you for corresponding with me on this. It has been helpful.

    I have heard of Peter Jones and have read some books of his. Western Philosophy is Monism in effort, at least that is the conclusion I come to after reading Van Til and other materials. Oprah and Rob Bell. Bergoglio coming from, and I am stereotyping here, Southern Americas Hemisphere Catholicism has long standing roots in pagan-Roman Catholic local idolatry worship. Though it is not only because of this Southern Americas Hemisphere Catholicism that Bergoglio may go that way. I am just pointing out that it would be familiar to him.

    1- When you say that the traditional Roman Catholic blogger you linked has ‘not gone into schism’ are you emphasizing that tradition is still in Rome at the same time neo-modernists are present also? Are you showing their contemporary unity by that statement?

    2 – For contemporary Catholicism (and probably has been this way since Rome’s Popish rise) the argument as to who is the true tradition is where the fight is won? I say this cause Thomists claim traditional leverage in their power share and you mention that neomodernists are trying to claim that early church high ground by including early mystics that Catholicism always assumes is the high ground. As opposed to the Christian high ground of authority which precludes the early church, thus what the early church had as their foundation, which is God’s Authoritative written Word and foundation of Jesus Christ.

    3 – Why would Edward Feser making inroads into the Reformed community have anything to do with neo-thomists and neo-modernists? I understand that Feser’s motives are to legitimize Catholicism, but does not the Reformed have their own ‘thoughts’ if anti-mysticism (anti-thoughtlessness) theology is what the Reformed community yearns? Or does this reflect a lack of Reformed thoughtfulness is Catholicism is supplying the need?

    I understand the B.B. Warfield pendulum swing is probably apt here when it comes to fallen man’s swinging back and forth from reason to mysticism. I think Aristotle was trying to control that swing but instead it was a form of self-prophecy. What he tried to control, controlled him depending on the emphasis of his thoughts or intuition. Meanwhile God is really Sovereign but fallen man is blind to that.


    4 –


  19. “It DOES something, and what it does is it configures us to Christ.” Prayer, Bible reading, going to Church with a humble spirit, taking communion … all these things help cultivate spiritual life. That seems pretty obvious. But the strained theologizing of people like Longenecker to take it a step further with exacting theology just seems, well, strained. “Configure us to Chirst” means ” helps us grow spiritual, I suppose. But “Don’t be LIKE Jesus, BE JESUS!” Good grief.


  20. Taken from the link John provided above:

    “This enabled neomodernists to be all things to all men, tailoring their appeal to the particular desires of any audience. This made possible alliances with powerful elements in the Church who were attracted not to neomodernism as such, but to abandoning particular doctrines that they found inconvenient or repellent. These doctrines were all concerned in one way or another with the exclusive character of the Catholic Church as a means for salvation; the condemnation of non-Catholic Christians as heretics and schismatics, the condemnation of non-Christian religions as paths to damnation, the insistence that the state must acknowledge and support the Catholic faith as the one true religion. These alliances were what permitted the neomodernists to achieve hegemony in the Church, and it is the support of these allies that to this day prevents any move against neomodernism by ecclesiastical authorities. Such a move would require enforcing all of Catholic doctrine, which would mean an intolerable return to exclusivism; it is found preferable in the last analysis to accept and promote those who reject all of that doctrine.”

    Catholicism still holds to baptism in the making of person Roman Catholic. The universal salvationists implied in this quote would rid baptism as the mark of a Roman Catholic. The inclusivists are the false ecumenical efforts whether in Catholicism or Lutheranism, etc…, i.e. unity at the expense of God’s scriptural truth. In Catholicism exclusivists are also false, because they exclude the Person of Jesus Christ, (so Catholicism is a lose-lose no matter what). I say false ecumenical efforts, because true ecumenicals are the work of God and what His gospel proclaims, “A great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb…” (Revelation 7:9)


  21. Hi Nicholas — Part of the “draw” of Roman Catholicism is that it can adapt itself “universally” — so it prides itself on being able to adapt to many different local customs. In answer to your questions:

    1. By “not gone into schism”, I mean that they still maintain allegiance to the pope, even though they don’t like him. A number of groups (i.e., the “Old Catholics” at Vatican 1 or the LeFevrites following Vatican II) have broken away over time, while still “looking” Catholic (practice of externals).

    The point is that they feel free to disagree with what’s going on, and stating their reasoning, while still remaining “within communion”. They believe that the structure of “the Church” has enough flexibility to sustain itself in spite of bad popes. It is the “ontological” reasoning mentioned above that is in play. “Ontologically, there is only one visible hierarchy”, which may often be populated with bad men.

    2. “The true tradition” is “in unity with the successor of Peter”, and sometimes that seems to be the ONLY constraint. Otherwise, almost anything else goes. And in that regard, Rome has never hesitated to be a bully to get its own way. And in doing so, it has even stomped on genuine “apostolic traditions”.

    For example, one of the earliest of these is the Quartodeciman controversy, over the practice of the dating of Easter. The easterners, following the practice of John and Andrew in Ephesus, held to Easter as corresponding to the date of Passover (which could fall any day of the week). The “bishop” of Rome at the time, Victor, thought that Easter should fall on a particular Sunday. So he excommunicated all of the Christians in Rome who practiced the “eastern” tradition. (That practice died out a number of centuries later).

    3. Only that Feser (for example) is a thomist and a professor of philophy — he argues vs atheists, and he has some young Reformed folks who are looking into what’s called “A/T metaphysics”. It’s a very sophisticated philosophy,, not many people know it well, and I believe that “philosophical sophistication” is ultimately what is drawing a lot of Reformed believers toward Rome. That’s why there are “a lot of intellectuals who convert to Rome”, at the same time as Rome is bleeding ordinary people from the pews.


  22. 2 – Yes and that “true tradition in unity with the successor of Peter” is fought over like king of the hill (that child’s game). For example, the neo-thomists and neo-modernists via for claim that their position is in line with what the successor of Peter claims. Only one can lay claim to the successor of Peter, unless the successor of Peter claims both are traditional and so the conflict without resolve continues either way – and that is one of the charge’s against fallen man in which he (fallen man) is guilty of (unresolved conflict). God has resolved the conflict in the peace of Christ which is God’s reconciliation to fallen man’s unableness to resolve. Of course this conflict resolved in Christ will come to end when He returns again.


  23. Identification confusion — am I Jesus or is Jesus Charlie?

    James Cone’s 1970 A Black Theology of Liberation spoke very clearly of a God who “identified with the oppressed to the point that their experience becomes God’s experience”(63).

    Long before Schmalz and Cone spoke of Jesus or God identifying with a particular group of people, the author of the Gospel of John used the same tactic to comfort those who were being persecuted.

    If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world – therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, “Servants are not greater than their master.” If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. (John 15. 18-20)

    While the author puts these words in the mouth of Jesus and directs them at Jesus’disciples, it is better to read them as words intended to comfort followers of Jesus toward the end of the 1st century. As John 9 shows, those in the Johannine community were in the midst of a struggle with “the Jews,”with those who confessed Jesus apparently being thrown out of the synagogue (John 9.22).

    Connecting the real world experiences of a person or group with those of Jesus or God serves to infuse those experiences with meaning. It is a way to fit one’s circumstance (e.g., poverty) or the actions of another (e.g., oppression or the Charlie Hebdo attack) into a previously developed system. While #JesusisCharlie may have begun as a simple and amusing typo on Twitter, those who capitalized on it have jumped into a long stream of those who speak of Jesus not only as being with them but as being like them.


  24. If you can’t be Jesus, you can have his wounds:

    What are the criteria that the Church uses to determine whether or not the stigmata are authentic?

    1. The stigmata are located in the same places as the five wounds of Christ.

    2. The stigmata all appear at the same time.

    3. The stigmata appear spontaneously while the person prays in ecstasy.

    4. They cannot be explained by natural causes.

    5. They do not deteriorate into necrosis.

    6. The do not give off a bad smell; on the contrary, sometimes it is said they smell of flowers.

    7. They do not become infected.

    8. They bleed daily and profusely.

    9. They remain unchanged despite treatment. They do not become worse.

    10. They cause a significant modification of the bodily tissues.

    11. They do not close perfectly and instantaneously.

    12. They are accompanied by intense physical and moral suffering, as from participating in the sufferings of Christ. (The lack of pain is a bad sign and a cause for doubt.)


  25. John, here’s where (all about) I am at:

    Posted December 27, 2014 at 12:03 pm | Permalink
    Until the self proclaimed infallible church infallibly declares it’s fallibility, round and round we go. Yo?

    I’m out. See y’all tmrrw. Peace.


  26. Mark Jones does not expect to be as great of a believer as Christ still is, but Jones is pretty sure that he himself is less hyper and more witting than other people he can think of…..

    “For a while now, I’ve thought that a lot of so-called “Calvinists” in the broader North American church are, UNWITTINGLY, hyper-Calvinists (doctrinally speaking)” – See more at:


  27. Becoming Reformed and taking sides against Jones and Piper does not keep folks from locating the gospel in Christ’s incarnation instead of Christ’s death for the sins of the elect.

    Since Sinclair Ferguson and John Murray have enforced “the Marrow” as the standard shiboleth which says that can’t deny God’s universal love for all sinners without denying the duty of all sinners to believe, it’s very common now to reject a federal atonement for the sake of an universal atonement which then gets distributed by the Holy Spirit to only some for whom Christ became incarnate. Instead of election in Christ giving us Christ’s death, the new paradigm insists that the incarnation is for every sinner and then the Holy Spirit “mystically unites” us to Christ’s incarnate person (and then the Holy Spirit gives some of us what Christ did for all of us)

    Donald Mcleod, p202, the Person of Christ, IVP, 1998— Christ’s humanity is that of every human. But He is not every human. He is the man, Christ Jesus, and the only humanity united to him hypostatically is his own…. The hypostatic union did not by itself secure the theiosis of every human being. In fact, the hypostatic union did not by itself secure the theiosis of even our Lord’s human nature. He was glorified not because He was God incarnate but because he finished the work given him to do (John 17:4). It is perfectly possible to be human and yet not be in Christ, because although the incarnation unites Christ to human nature it does not unite him to me.

    Bobby Grow—There is a differentiation between Christ’s humanity as his (enhypostatic) humanity, while at the same time maintaining that what Christ has done as archetypal humanity in his assumed humanity (for us) We do not conflate nature and person but instead we see Jesus’s humanity as the objective ground of what it means for all humanity to be truly human before God. We do affirm the need for personal faith for someone to fully participate in the humanity of God in Christ (e.g. it is not automatic in the incarnation), and thus experience the full benefits of reconciliation and salvation with God in Christ. It is just that evangelical Calvinists believe that all that is required for all humans to be ‘justified’ has already happened fully in Christ. We can hold what we hold, and at the same time not affirm universalism. How do we think it possible for only some people to affirm their election in Jesus Christ, and not all? What place do we have in our theology for the person and work of the Holy Spirit in transitioning us from our unbelieving states into believing states

    Scott Clark —The reason the well-meant offer has not been more persuasive is that its critics have not understood or sympathized with the fundamental assumption on which the doctrine…was premised— the distinction between theology as God knows it (theologia archetypa) and theology as it is revealed to and done by us (theologia ectypa).


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